Handwashing vs. Gloves in Commercial Restaurants

Proper hygiene among employees in your commercial restaurant is very important to ensure food safety. Because the impact of foodborne illness can be devastating to both a restaurant and its customers, and due to the fact that it is a common occurrence in the United States, proper sanitation should not be taken lightly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 36% of foodborne illness can be traced to poor personal hygiene and that foodborne diseases cause about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.

In many commercial restaurants, owners have shifted to having employees wear gloves while working in the kitchen. Several reasons have led to this shift including customers being more comfortable seeing employees wearing gloves and due to the health department prescribing employees to wear gloves and avoid bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.

So, are gloves really more sanitary than washing hands?

The answer may surprise you. Generally, when people wear gloves it’s actually less sanitary than when they don’t wear gloves, with the exception of when employees have cuts or open sores on their hands. A hand-hygiene study was conducted by the CDC and found that hand washing rates were significantly lower when gloves were worn. This is due to the fact that gloves create a false sense of cleanliness, which ultimately leads to gloves being used incorrectly and employees not washing their hands well or as often as they should.

For example, if you were to grab a pickle with your bare hands, you’d get pickle juice on your hands. You’d proceed by washing your hands to get rid of the pickle juice. However, if you have gloves on and you grabbed a pickle, you more than likely would not change to a new pair of gloves before handling other food items since your hands are not physically wet from the juice. You can see why this would be a major problem, especially among multitasking line cooks.

So, what should you enforce in your kitchen?

A combination of a proper handwashing routine and proper use of disposable gloves is the best way to minimize risks associated with foodborne illness. It’s very important to stress that employees should change their gloves every time they touch a new food item or perform a new task such as placing food in a cooler.

In addition, they should wash their hands before placing every new pair of gloves on. Gloves alone will not prevent the problem without being used in combination with handwashing. Covering up contaminated hands is not the answer, removing the contamination first and then switching gloves frequently to eliminate cross contamination is.

Glove Tips:

  • Have multiple sizes of gloves: It’s important to have gloves that fit all employees hand sizes. If gloves are too small they can tear, while gloves that are too big can fall off easily.
  • Train employees with the proper glove removal technique. Visit CDC’s website for more information.
  • Make sure employees are changing gloves at appropriate times. For example:
        • If they tear
        • Before beginning a new task
        • Every four hours doing the same task
        • After handling raw meat, fish or poultry
        • Keep tabs on how many gloves are being used and step in the kitchen to make sure employees are changing their gloves and washing their hands at the appropriate times
  • Follow a general rule of thumb – Would you lick your gloves? With the exception of raw meats, the answer should be yes because if gloves are being used properly it wouldn’t be an issue. However, you would not want to lick a glove that has touched multiple different foods and surfaces around the kitchen.

Handwashing Tips:

  • Train employees with the proper handwashing technique. Visit CDC’s handwashing resource page for more information.
  • Make sure employees are washing their hands frequently and at the appropriate times. For example:
        • Before starting work
        • Every time they change gloves
        • After treating a cut or wound
        • After using the toilet
        • After blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing
        • After touching garbage
  • Install proper handwashing stations in the kitchen and keep soap up to par.
  • Consider additional hand sanitizers to be used as an added step.

Kitchen Cleaning Tricks: Oven Racks, Blood & Gum

Oven Racks

Oven racks in a commercial restaurant become covered with food, grease and grime over time, so it’s critical to clean them frequently to reduce issues related to oven performance. By choosing the correct technique and cleaning chemicals you will limit problems with food flavor. Follow the steps below to clean your commercial kitchen oven racks quickly and efficiently.

What you’ll need:

  • Industrial heavy duty trash bags
  • Liquid Brick Grill and Oven Cleaner
  • A Spray Bottle

Steps:

  1. Scrap off any heavy duty build up on the oven racks with a putty knife or similar tool. You only need to remove the really big crusty stuff.
  2. Place an unused trash bag on the ground near the oven.
  3. Remove the oven rack and place it inside a heavy duty trash bag.
  4. Open the bag and spray the oven rack with grilling oven cleaner, making sure it is completely doused so that every part of the oven rack is wet with chemical.
  5. Fold the trash bag up over the rack, being careful not to puncture a hole in the bag.
  6. Tie the bag closed with a zip tie.
  7. Leave the rack in the bag overnight.
  8. The next day, take out the rack and spray it thoroughly with water. 95% of the build up should spray off.
  9. Place the rack back into the oven.

Blood Stains

Removing blood stains from surfaces at your commercial restaurant is really simple if you use the correct cleaning product FIRST. In this case, the correct cleaning product is not a cleaning product at all. The correct cleaning product is hydrogen peroxide. Yes, the same product that you have in your medicine cabinet to treat cuts and scratches.

Simply pour an ample amount of hydrogen peroxide on the stain and watch it bubble. Once the bubbling stops, clean the stain with ordinary soap and water.

But here is the catch, you have to use the hydrogen peroxide before you try cleaning the stain with something else. If you try cleaning the stain with a different product and it doesn’t work and then you try the hydrogen peroxide, it probably will not work because you have changed chemistry.

Bonus Time!!! The same is true for red wine and iodine. Use the hydrogen peroxide.


Gum

A common thing you’ll find in a commercial restaurant is gum stuck to the carpet or other surfaces. While gum sticks fast to these surfaces, there’s a cleaning solution that will help remove the gum and leave your carpet looking new. Follow the steps below for quicker gum removal.

What you’ll need:

  • Ice
  • Plastic cutting knife or spatula

Steps:

  1. Place ice directly on the gum until the gum becomes hard and stiff. The harder the gum is, the easier it will be to clean it off. For small spots use an ice cube or for larger areas you can utilize a plastic baggy full of ice.
  2. Chip away at the gum with a plastic cutting knife or spatula until the gum breaks up. Try to avoid tugging at the carpet to make sure you don’t pull up the carpet fibers.
  3. Remove the largest portion of the gum first.
  4. If there is still some gum remaining after this process, repeat the steps again with new ice.

Cleaner Solutions Whole House Program

Cleaner Solutions, a local independent company, offers a Whole House Program to provide all the cleaning solutions a restaurant needs at one efficient price, including front of house, back of house, ware wash and cleaners and sanitizers.

With the Whole House Program, we offer a flat monthly rate to guarantee that you will stay on budget. We manage your chemical program by working directly with staff and monitoring your usage to cut down on waste or misuse of chemical cleaning products. This ultimately takes stress off the operator and cuts down on the hassles associated with cleaning solutions including keeping the chemicals up to par, putting the stock away, managing employee chemical uses and more.

What are the steps we take to start the Whole House Program?

  • Survey: We do a survey of your current products, usage and concentrations to learn what the restaurant buys and how much the restaurant uses.
  • Assess: We perform an assessment and quantify your spending habits and look for ways to make your chemical program more efficient without greatly modifying your current practices.
  • Customize: We customize a safe, effective and efficient program for your establishment.
  • Budget: We do a side-by-side comparison. Our goal is to save you 20%. We offer one flat monthly rate so you’re always on budget.
  • Management: We manage the program and do all the work. We set pars, deliver the product and put away stock.

Why does it work?

  • Power Matters: We set up our products and system with enough power so your employees can effectively clean without bypassing the system. We make sure the employees are happy with the system.
  • Fragrance Matters: Our products have extra fragrances providing a “smells clean” effect.
  • Color Matters: In the same way that “smells clean” affect works, the rich colors gives the employee the impression that the product is loaded with the maximum amount of cleaning product. The real advantage to the management staff is that a manager can see from 40 feet away whether the employee is using the correct product for the job, that the product has been diluted correctly and that the product in the correctly labeled spray bottle.
  • We Manage the Program: We provide quality products, monitor the usage and build the system with the employee in mind so the employees can easily work within the system.

Things to Consider

If you’re still trying to decide if the Whole House Program is for you, here’s some things you should consider:

  • You budget for food, liquor and labor, so why are you not budgeting for a chemical program too?
  • How much is the food house actually charging you for your chemical program?
  • Why does the food house place chemical costs on the last page of your bill?
  • Why are you depending on the food house for your chemical program?
  • How many price increases have you had in the past 12 months?
  • What if someone was monitoring your usage, so you could cut down on waste and misuse of chemicals by employees?

Take the guessing and hassle out of your chemical program and switch to the Whole House Program with Cleaner Solutions. For more information and to get a free assessment of your current chemical program contact Cleaner Solutions today.